NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — In recognition of Women’s History Month, CBS2’s Vanessa Murdock traveled to the Crossroad of the World for a tale of two restaurants persevering during the pandemic.
Both are owned by women who immigrated to the United States as children and say their goal is to spark joy with food.READ MORE: 'Teetering On Survival:' New York City Restaurants Mark 1 Year Since COVID Restrictions Started
“Being an immigrant of two Caribbean parents from Dominican Antigua, to be able to open up Jasmine’s Caribbean Cuisine on Restaurant Row, it made both of my parents feel so proud,” co-owner Jasmine Gerald told Murdock.
Step inside the Restaurant Row establishment, and Gerald hopes island music colliding with the sounds of a virgin sour sap mojito coming to life will transport you to the Caribbean.
“We wanted to bring back just some happiness, peace,” Gerald said.
In the kitchen, head chef Timmoy Powel stirs in the secret ingredient, “love.”
The slice of paradise opened Nov. 7, 2020 — yes, in the middle of the pandemic.
“Of course, everyone was like, ‘What are you doing?'” said Gerald.
She said the perfect opportunity fell in her lap.
“I said, ‘You know what, why not?'” she said.
It didn’t matter she had never worked in the restaurant business, but one thing did.
“My mom always wanted a restaurant too, and she makes amazing food,” she said.READ MORE: Women's History Month: Virtual Tours Explore How Female Historic Figures Shaped New York
Just a month after opening, a resurgence of COVID closed their doors, but every challenge offered an opportunity to learn and grow.
“Anything that you put your mind to, even though it’s at a crazy time, you can do it with perseverance, a good team of people and just staying focused,” she said.
On the opposite side of Times Square, stands Margon. Owner Guadelupe Rivas described what business was like when COVID hit.
“It was the most horrendous thing that happened to us, because we had to close for almost four months,” she told Murdock.
She said she’s never been through anything like it in her 38 years of ownership. Business is slowly picking up as regulars return.
“I feel the love, I do feel the love from the people,” Rivas said.
The love gets reciprocated through food — the famous Cuban sandwiches — and with hospitality. Rivas said her family makes it possible.
“That’s what keeps me going, that gives me the strength to continue doing what I love, which is helping people,” she said.
She attributes her success over nearly four decades to her mother, who brought her to the states when she was 12.
“To me, my mom is my rock, and she helped me to be the woman that I am today,” she said.MORE NEWS: Bronx Chef Helps Feed Thousands Of Families With Organization 'Full Hearts, Full Bellies'
Two women serving up delicious food and lots of good vibes, for “her-story” times two.